"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > International Cuisines and Ethnic Cookery
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-22-2004, 02:41 PM   #1
Chef Extraordinaire
 
mudbug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NoVA, beyond the Beltway
Posts: 11,166
Tex and Mex

Will someone please splain what's Tex, what's Tex-Mex, and what's truly Mex? Love 'em all, but would like to know the difference(s).

__________________

__________________
Kool Aid - Think before you drink.
mudbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2004, 02:45 PM   #2
Executive Chef
 
Raine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 3,549
TEX-MEX FOODS. Tex-Mex foods are a combination of Indian and Spanish cuisines, which came together to make a distinct new cuisine. Foods also reveal some of the cultural differences between such regional groups as Mexican Americansqv in South Texas and those in West Texas. The first Spaniards to arrive in Texas encountered a variety of Indian groups who ate different diets. The nomadic tribes lived off the land, eating game, fish, and available edible plants. Sedentary groups, such as those at La Junta de los RĆ*os,qv cultivated such crops as corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, sunflower seeds, and peppers. Their squash was likely the cushaw, a winter squash that could be eaten in its tender stage or allowed to mature like a pumpkin and stored for winter. These cultivated foods were supplemented by wild plants and game, and some Indian groups had the domesticated turkeys. Wild game included deer, rabbits, javelinas, and quail. Wild plant foods included such products of cactiqv as nopales (prickly pear leaves), tunas (prickly pear fruit), and pitahayas (a sweet cactus fruit). Others were the sotol plant (usually baked in pits), the century plant and lechuguilla (both members of the agave family), and the mesquiteqv bean. The Spaniards introduced wheat and a number of domestic animals-including pigs, goats, cattle, and sheep-along with a number of fruits and vegetables.

In early times, the Indians ate corn in one form or another at almost every meal. In its tender (roasting ear) stage, it is eaten fresh as elotes (either boiled in water or cooked over coals in the shuck) or boiled and dried for future use. In West Texas, the ears are called chacales. Boiled and dried fresh corn is also added to various other dishes, such as the West Texas Lenten dish comida de quaresma. In its mature stage, corn is toasted on a comal and ground into fine powder on a metate. This powder can be eaten dry (with cinnamon and piloncillo-raw sugar) as pinole or cooked in water or milk and eaten as atole. More commonly, the ripe corn kernels are boiled in water with lime added to remove the hard shell and swell the corn into a hominy-like state. It can then be used to make the breakfast dish posole (cooked with meat, chiles, garlic, salt, and sometimes other vegetables and seasonings). This processed corn is ground on a metate to make masa for corn tortillas (later, small hand-mills, or molinas, became available to speed the process) or to make nixtamal for tamales. Earlier in the twentieth century, corn tortillas were made almost daily, but tamales were made only on special occasions, particularly Christmas. When wheat flour became readily available in the 1930s, the flour tortilla began to replace the corn tortilla. Few people make corn tortillas today. Most buy them from the store and make flour tortillas, which are so much easier to make, at home. Corn tortillas form the basis of a number of popular dishes-enchiladas, tacos, chilaquiles, chalupas, quesadillas, tostadas, botanas, and others. The masa can be cooked in thicker patties to make gorditas filled with ground or shredded meat, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, and grated cheese. Most Texas-Mexican corn dishes, and the equipment used to prepare them, have names derived from the Aztec language, Nahuatl.

Another staple eaten daily was frijoles, or beans. In the earliest times, these were either kidney beans, tepary beans, or sometimes the black beans more common in Mexico. When they became available, however, pinto beans became the overwhelming popular choice. These were boiled in an olla (clay pot) and eaten as frijoles enteros, frijoles de la olla, or frijoles graniados. These may be reheated a time or two and served in the same form. As they are reheated, they tend to become soupy, and in this phase are referred to as frijoles familiares. Then the whole beans are fried as frijoles fritos. Finally, they are mashed and refried in lard with green chiles and onions or garlic-the well known dish found in burritos and served as side dishes with most Mexican foods in restaurants: frijoles refritos or machacados. Combined with other foods, beans may also be served as such dishes as frijoles a la charra (beans cooked with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and chiles), frijoles con queso (frijoles enteros or familiares with grated cheese), frijoles con chorizo (beans with Mexican sausage), and frijoles con quelites (beans with pigweed, an edible plant growing in the wild).

Squash was boiled as calabasa cocida or sliced and dried as rueditas. The latter could be stored and used later. Perhaps the favorite squash dish was calabacita, squash boiled, chopped, and fried with onions, tomatoes, and cheese. Cooked with meat to make a type of stew, it became calabacita con carne; cooked with chicken, it became calabacita con pollo. Pumpkins were used to make empanadas, among other dishes.

There were numerous dishes made from various meats, both from domestic and wild animals. Some of the more traditional ones are from pork, including chicharrones (fried pork rinds and various internal parts); from goat, including cabrito and machitos (called buriƱate or buruƱate in West Texas and burraƱate in New Mexico); and from cattle, including fajitas. When a goat is butchered, machitos are made from the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and other internal parts, which are chopped and wrapped in the tela (visceral lining) and tied with a piece of the tripa, or small intestine. This is then cooked a la parrilla (on a grill) or al horno (in the oven). Another traditional dish from West Texas, deprecated by Anglos and acculturated Mexican Americans) is morcilla, a dish made from pig blood that is still prepared in rural areas of Spain. The blood is cooked inside the pig's cleaned stomach and then fried with chile, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, garlic, and oregano. An older custom calls for adding raisins and nuts. Various caldos (soups) and adobos (a type of pickled meat dish) were also common. When a large animal, such as a steer, was butchered on the ranch, it was shared among the families there. Meats could be dried, made into chorizo, or cooked and immersed in lard. Carne seca (dried meat, sometimes called tasajo, or jerky) could last long periods and was prepared as guisados (stews) and a popular breakfast dish, machacado, made of shredded carne seca, eggs, and chiles. Chickens and turkeys were also common in most rural areas. They provided such dishes as arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), calabacita con pollo (chicken and squash), pollo guisado (stewed chicken), and chicken soup. Eggs could be used in such dishes as chorizo con huevos (sausage with eggs), papas con huevos (potatoes with eggs), and huevos rancheros (an egg dish prepared with chiles, onions, and other spices). Women also made fresh cheese from cow's and goat's milk, called queso blanco or in West Texas asaderos. They also made butter and jocoque (buttermilk) and such confections as leche quemada (caramel candy) and arroz con leche (rice pudding).

Dishes made from wheat flour (brought by the Spaniards) include a number of breads and confections. The same dough used to make flour tortillas at home can be cooked in an oven as pan de agua. A popular pastry, the sopapilla, is made of flour tortilla dough rolled and folded, then fried in hot lard and served with honey or another sweetener. BuƱuelos are flour tortilla fried until crisp, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Pan blanco (or bolillos-also a slang name for Anglos) is a small, spongy loaf. Pan de campo was a wheat bread commonly cooked in cow camps in both West and South Texas. The various sweets made from wheat flour are legion, the more common ones being pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread), bizcochos (anise cookies), and cupcakes (sometimes called mamones because of their shape). These various pastries are an integral part of most fiestas, particularly quinceaƱeras,qv weddings, birthdays, and Christmas and New Year celebrations. Desserts include capirotada (a type of bread pudding) and arroz blanco con leche cocido (or simply arroz con leche), a rice and milk dessert with raisins and sugar.

Although traditional foods reveal the strong cultural ties between Mexican Americans in West Texas and those in South Texas, they also reveal the cultural differences. West Texas Hispanics are much more closely tied to the New Mexican culture. In West Texas and New Mexico, for example, enchiladas are typically prepared flat: the tortilla is dipped into hot grease and then into chile sauce, placed on a plate, and covered with grated cheese and chopped onions. The process is repeated until one has a stack of three or four tortillas, upon which a fried egg may be placed to make enchiladas montadas (mounted enchiladas). Beef or chicken is reserved for the rolled enchiladas originally popular in South Texas and now available around the world. Some dishes are not shared at the folk level but spread in popular culture (as exemplified by restaurants, for instance). Fajitas, for instance, widely available in restaurants, are a common folk dish in South Texas but not in West Texas. Working-class Mexican Americans in South Texas like tripitas, though the dish is not very popular in West Texas. (Tripitas are traditionally fried in a cooker made from an old plow disk set on three legs of pipe over an open fire or coals.) Morcilla, made of pork blood, is common in West Texas but not in South Texas. Despite regional differences of taste at the folk level, however, various Tex-Mex dishes have become popular world-wide.
__________________

__________________
Raine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2004, 02:47 PM   #3
Executive Chef
 
Raine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 3,549
Tex-Mex is a highly spiced and vibrant style of cooking that was created as an extension and adaptation of Mexican cuisine to suit United States (specifically, Texan) tastes. The name is derived from Texas and Mexico, whose joint culinary heritage it is. Diana Kennedy, an influential food authority, first delineated the differences between Mexican cuisine and Americanized Mexican food in her 1972 book The Cuisines of Mexico. The first known recorded use of Tex-Mex in reference to food occurred in the Mexico City News in 1973.
The ingredients used are common in Mexican cuisine, although ingredients unknown in Mexico are often added. Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of meat (particularly beef), beans, and spices. Nachos, crispy tacos, crispy chalupas, chili con queso, chili con carne, flour tortillass, chili gravy, fajitas and pecan pralines are all Tex-Mex inventions. Serving tortilla chips and a hot sauce or salsa as an appetizer is also an original Tex-Mex combination.
__________________
Raine is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2004, 02:49 PM   #4
Chef Extraordinaire
 
mudbug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NoVA, beyond the Beltway
Posts: 11,166
I swear, Rainee - you are an encylcopedia masquerading as a woman! Thanks.
__________________
Kool Aid - Think before you drink.
mudbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2004, 02:49 PM   #5
Executive Chef
 
Raine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 3,549
Do people in Mexico eat the same dishes I find at my favorite Mexican restaurants here in the United States?

Yes and no. Most Mexican restaurants in the United States specialize in only one aspect of Mexican cooking, antojitos mexicanos, literally "Mexican-style whims." These are the corn and tortilla-based specialties that include dishes such as enchiladas, tacos, tamales, quesadillas, chalupas, and tostadas that evolved directly from the original Indian cooking. In Mexico today these antojitos mexicanos serve as inexpensive but delicious staples for those in the lower economic class, and are popular with the more affluent as informal snacks or light meals, much as we would eat hamburgers and hotdogs. In addition, it should be noted that most Mexican restaurants in the United States serve what is more properly referred to as Mexican-American cooking, an adaptation of the original, interior recipes to U.S. ingredients and cooking methods.

6. What is the difference between Tex-Mex cooking and that found in other areas I have visited in the United States such as New Mexico and Arizona?

All these cooking styles are properly termed Mexican-American cooking, and are regional variations within the broad definition of Mexican cooking. With the notable exception of the Mexican cooking of New Mexico, they were developed by Mexican immigrants who adapted their recipes to the new ingredients and conditions they found on this side of the border. In New Mexico, however, the cooking developed much the same is it did in Mexico, where Spanish ingredients and techniques mixed with those of the Indians. In New Mexico this meant, for the most part, the Pueblo Indians whose cooking was quite distinctive.

Regional differences in Mexican-American cooking include: In the Mexican cooking of Arizona, which came mostly from the state of Sonora staples include burritos and chimichangas, often filled with dried, shredded beef, seasoned with chiles. These items, until recently, were rarely found in New Mexico or Texas. In New Mexico, sopaipillas, taken with honey or stuffed with meat are popular items rarely found elsewhere. New Mexican chile sauces are made almost exclusively from their own distinctive family of chiles, both fresh (green) and dried (red) and are used almost exclusively to make sauces, with pork most often being the meat of choice. In Texas where beef is king, enchiladas are covered with a cumin-infused beef gravy made usually with ancho chiles, salsas usually are made with jalapeƱo chiles, and puffy tacos are a specialty not found elsewhere..

8. What is the difference between the Mexican cooking found in the United States and that of Mexico?

Some of the main differences between Mexican interior and Mexican-American cooking are: Mexican-Americans more often use ground meat and cheddar or Velveeta cheese, and bake their enchiladas in ovens with large amounts of thickened chile sauce and cheese, whereas in Mexico boiled, shredded meat and white cheeses such as asadero is the rule. In Mexico, enchiladas are usually made by dipping the tortillas in a chile sauce, frying them in oil, filling and serving them immediately with just a little added sauce and cheese for a garnish. In Mexican-American cooking, enchiladas are usually covered with a large quantity of chile sauce or gravy, topped with cheese and baked before serving. Also, Mexican-American cooking is largely confined to the aspect of Mexican cooking called antojitos mexicanos (at least on restaurant menus) and is based primarily on the more simple cooking of the states of northern Mexico, from which most of the early immigrants came.
__________________
Raine is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
None

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Discuss Cooking on Facebook

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:14 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.